June 4, 2003
by Center for Religious Freedom
“The anti- Sudan slavery industry, partly in the shape of Freedom House, have recently been at the forefront of attempts to resuscitate clearly discredited claims of ‘slavery’ and ‘slave redemption’ in Sudan. In May 2003, for example, Freedom House issued a press release claiming that ten thousand people had been ‘enslaved’ in Sudan. This is the largest attempt to resurrect what had previously been a useful and lucrative anti-Sudanese propaganda vehicle …Groups such as Freedom House, intent on demonizing the Sudan, have acted as a vehicle for often lurid propaganda claims, alleging, for example, that ‘slavery’ is government sponsored.”
Website of the Embassy of Sudan, June 26, 2003
“Finding 11: Bringing about an end to the practices of slavery, abduction and forced servitude will require Sudan’s national political and military leaders to speak out forcefully and to act vigorously against these practices. Denials of the existence of slavery and rationalizations for its existence may be interpreted by some as indifference or, worse, license to continue these abuses.”
Report of the U.S. Government Supported International Eminent Persons Group, May 22, 2002
President Bush made Sudan an early focus of his administration’s Africa policy after the Center, leading a coalition of church groups and civil rights organizations, pressed for U.S. leadership in ending slavery and religious genocide by Sudan’s radical Islamic regime.
On May 27 and July 7, the Center held briefings on slavery and the Sudan Peace Process. At the May briefing, the UK’s Rift Valley Institute released a groundbreaking study listing the names and other identifying information of at least 10,000 persons enslaved in Sudan. The study represents the first ever database on the extent of slavery in Sudan.
The Center’s briefing in July featured John Eibner of the Swiss-based Christian Solidarity International, which has documented slave raids over the past ten years in Sudan.
Arab Muslims tribes raid African villages in South and Southern Sudan targeting Christian or animist women and children. Slave raids are conducted as part of the government’s jihad against the non-Muslim south of the country.
The nature and extent of slavery and abductions in the Sudan has long been a subject of great concern to the international community, while the Sudanese Government strongly denies that slavery exists.
Following international pressure – including a UN speech by Center Director Nina Shea while representing U.S. government in 2001 – Sudan’s slave raids have been largely suspended for the past two years. The last raids were reported to have taken place in Sudan’s Western Upper Nile region in the first quarter of 2003. At least 10,000 of those abducted in prior slave raids remain unaccounted for.
[For a shocking account of one Sudanese Christian’s experience as a slave read the just released book of Center friend Francis Bol Bok, Escape from Slavery (New York: St. Martin’s Press).]